In Monday’s seminar class, we discussed Washington Square. First, we discussed Henry James as a narrator. Then, we compared both movies that are based on the novel.

When I was reading this novel, I did not detect Henry James opinion of Catherine. Throughout the novel I was able to detect some irony, but I did not realize that Henry James had an opinion towards his heroine. Initially he makes fun of her when he says, “Catherine’s back is a broad one which could have carried a great deal.” I wish I would have looked more closely at some of the things he had said when I was reading the novel because I feel I have missed his sardonic comments. It was interesting to learn that he did have an opinion of his protagonist at one point, because from my understanding of the novel I thought he was objective.

If I had to decide to see one of the two movies, just from my knowledge of the book and from seeing the clips in class, I would see The Heiress. I felt that The Heiress was more like the book. I know that’s not what I am supposed to expect as a moviegoer when I see a movie based on a book, but I like to go into a movie and see it be very close the book. In this movie, Catherine was more contained and simple, which I feel resembles her character in the book more closely. Like Professor Kahan pointed out, the other movie, Washington Square, seemed to have more of a 20th century feel based on the movements of the characters, which I didn’t like. I also feel that the emotions conveyed in Washington Square were over exaggerated. For example, Dr. Sloper’s sarcasm jumps right off the screen. In the book I detected his sarcasm in some of his comments, but I do not feel he was as sarcastic as he is portrayed in this movie, which bothered me. Catherine’s flaws are also much more prominent. I liked how she aced in The Heiress more because her shyness and simpleminded are not as exaggerated as they are in Washington Square.